Erasmus Hall High School

From the (1939) WPA Guide to New York City:

Erasmus Hall High School, Flatbush and Church Avenues, often called the "mother of high schools," began as a small private academy in 1787 with an enrollment of twenty-six boys. It was the first secondary school to be chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York and hence is the nucleus out of which grew the vast system of secondary school education in New York. The original academy building, a fine example of Colonial architecture with its hand-carved beams and clapboards, stands in the center of an ivy-towered quadrangle. It was built in 1787 with funds contributed by Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Jay, and others. Around it are three-story stone and brisk buildings, Collegiate Gothic in design, completed in 1905 1925. In front of the old academy is a large bronze statue of Desiderius Erasmus copied from an original (1622) Rotterdam by Hendrick de Keiser.

The entrance fee to the old Erasmus Hall Academy was one guinea and tuition was six pounds sterling, a sizable sum in those days. Students came not only from the surrounding countryside, but also from such far-off places as France, Portugal, the West Indies, Brazil, Spain, and Sweden. Discipline was severe and refractory students were punished by solitary confinement in the "brig," an attic above the classrooms, and sometimes even whipped. If the quaint wording of Rule 9 is to be taken literally, however, students who stood in the good graces of teachers were allowed a license undreamed of in modern private schools. This rule states: "No student shall be permitted to practise any species of gaming nor to drink any spirituous liquors nor to go into any tavern in Flat Bush without obtaining the consent of a teacher."

Erasmus became a part of the public-school system in 1896, and today has an enrollment exceeding seven thousand. Its alumni include many stage and screen celebrities and athletes: among them are Barbara Stanwyck, Constance and Norma Talmadge, Jane Cowl, Aline McMahon, Eleanor Holm, Sidney Luckman, and Waite Hoyt. Other graduates are Elmer Sperry, inventor of the Sperry gyroscope; Tessa Kelly, "good angel" of the London slums; and William Duer, an early president of Columbia University.

entrance with pedestrians
Photo: Ruben Abril Lamarque (about 1946)

erasmus hall high school brooklyn 1912   erasmus hall high school brooklyn 1910
1912 [19K image]  
1910 [22K image]

Erasmus Hall High School Alumni Association . . .

Erasmus Hall Campus School for Science and Mathematics . . .

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